Written by Noah Turner
The renovation of the Mildred Taylor Stevens Memorial Art Center, commonly referred to as the Stevens Art and Design Center, started the day after graduation and included a new roof, energy-saving windows and a change in location for the ceramics room.
The current art and design building stands where President George S. Benson’s home used to be. In 1999, that house was removed, and the front part of the building, including the faculty offices, gallery, graphic design studios and the computer lab, was constructed. The back part of the building was built in 1969 beside Benson’s home and has not been renovated since.
Danny DeRamus, director of physical resources, said his department acted as the general contractor for the renovation. Physical resources worked with the architect, Mike Steelman, who is also an adjunct professor for the interior design department.
“What this project was is basically a revamp of the HVAC systems in the whole building,” DeRamus said.
The cost was a little less than $1.5 million, according to DeRamus, and he said the renovation provided better air quality and temperature control to the entire building.
Daniel Adams, chair of the department of art and design and professor of art, said the air conditioning systems were not sufficient to cool the building because each system from the two parts of the building worked independently. Due to the poor circulation, the building suffered from constant mold and mildew problems. In fact, when the air conditioning units were being replaced, several workers fell through the ceiling of the building because the mold and mildew had rotted the ceiling, so the ceiling was replaced as well.
The primary purpose of the renovation was to replace the air conditioning system and make the building more efficient. Several other improvements were made however, including more efficient LED lights being installed, the ceramics studio and main classroom completely redone, and the senior design studio and computer lab redone and expanded.
“Originally, we had thought we would do a complete remodel, but because Dr. McLarty, rightly so, has a very conservative look at the budget, that was something that didn’t fit into the plans of the university,” Adams said.
Plans for enclosing the courtyard and turning it into a new gallery space and remodeling the current galleries and using them for classrooms were in conversation but not finalized.
Senior Kelly Horne, graphic design major, said she is happy with the improvements made to the senior design studio and computer lab.
“There was talk of [the renovation] being bigger, and I am kind of upset we didn’t get a second gallery,” Horne said. “But the fact that we’re not burning up in here in August is really nice. In the past, we would walk in, and we would be sweating. It’s a noticeable difference to be comfortable because of the air conditioning.”
The Stevens Art Gallery is currently hosting a show about the recent Art & Design International summer trip and the work that was produced by the art students who traveled the world. All students are encouraged to attend current and upcoming exhibitions.